Meal Stretching Recipes And Ideas

I’ve started this thread for all of us to share recipes and ideas for stretching meals and/or stretching your food budget.

With the economy the way it is today, the prices of foods, gasoline, etc. and no end in sight - I thought it would be nice to start a thread just for this.

Do you have any recipes that have been handed down throughout the years - possibly from the Depression Era from friends and/or family that you would like to share? Meals that don’t cost a small fortune allowing you to stretch your food budget further?

What about your leftovers? How do you re-use them?

Please feel free to post hints and ideas as well!

KW

One way to stretch a family meatloaf is to add oatmeal or stuffing mix to make a larger meatloaf.

The same recipe can be used to make meatballs.

1/2 lb pork, ground
1/2 lb beef, ground
1 cup minced onions
2 cups cooked oatmeal
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp marjoram, if desired
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp melted fat

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Pack in greased loaf pan. Bake in moderate oven (350) for 1-1/2 hours. Let stand several minutes before removing from pan. Serves 6 to 8.

1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef or chuck or ground round
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 (8-15 ounces) can tomato sauce
2 cups packaged herb seasoned stuffing mix
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 dash pepper
grated mild cheddar cheese

4-6 servings 1 loaf Change size or US/metric
Change to: loaf US Metric

1 hour 10 minutes 10 mins prep

Combine ground beef, egg, 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, stuffing crumbs, salt, and pepper.
Shape mixture into a loaf and place in bread pan.
Bake for 50 minutes at 350; remove from oven and top loaf with remaining tomato sauce (this is where i use more) and shedded cheese.
Bake meatloaf 10 more minutes.

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green or red bell pepper, or a combination
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
3/4 cup oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1/2 cup tomato sauce or ketchup
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 slices provolone cheese, cut in half

Topping

1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 large green or red bell pepper, or a combination, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook onion, green pepper and garlic in oil in medium skillet until tender.

In large bowl, combine ground beef, oats, tomato sauce, egg, salt,
pepper and onion-pepper-garlic mixture; mix lightly but thoroughly.
Shape mixture into 5-by-8-inch loaf on rack of broiler pan.

Bake 50-55 minutes or until center of meatloaf registers 160 degrees
on an instant-read thermometer. Arrange cheese on top of loaf,
overlapping slices; bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese has
melted. Let meatloaf stand 5 minutes before cutting.

For topping: Cook sliced onion, sliced peppers and salt in oil until
tender. To serve, cut meatloaf into slices; arrange slices on plate
topped with onions and peppers.

Serves 6.

NOTE: If desired, substitute 2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese for provolone cheese. Slice meatloaf. Sprinkle with cheese, top with
cooked peppers and onions.

Leftover spaghetti sauce can be frozen and used as a pizza sauce for your next pizza. Ditto with leftover marinara, etc.

Not enough for a pizza? Don’t waste it. You can still make “pizza” using anything from a bagel, English muffin, rolls, bread, tortillas - you name it. Serve with a salad for a quick lunch.

Ditto with leftover sloppy joe mix, taco meats, etc.

Leftover meatballs or hamburgers can always be chopped up as well and used.

here’s a few uses for leftover mashed potatoes -

PIEROGIE CASSEROLE

8 ounces lasagna noodles
2 large onions, diced
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated (2 cups)
4 cups mashed potatoes, made fresh or leftover
4 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook noodles according to package and set aside. Brown the butter in a medium skillet, being careful not to burn. Add the onions and sauté until softened and lightly browned. Combine the cheese and mashed potatoes. Butter or spray a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Line the bottom with a layer of noodles. Add a layer of potato and cheese mixture then spread with a portion of the onions. Continue to layer the ingredients ending with a layer of noodles topped with onions. Bake at 350° F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned. Tent with foil if the top browns too quickly.

Notes: Browning the butter adds a lot of flavor to the casserole. If you prefer, it could just be melted. If making freshly mashed potatoes, use about 8 large potatoes. If you don’t have enough leftover potatoes, add some fresh or make some from instant potatoes. The recipe can easily be halved.

I know someone that freezes all leftover mashed potatoes every time there are any leftover. When she gets enough she thaw them out, mix them with an egg, salt and pepper and enough flour so they have the consistency of drop-cookie dough, being careful not to mix too much.

The mixture is then spoon-dropped into oil in a frying pan. Take a fork, dip the ends of the tines in the hot oil in the pan and tap the tops of these lumps so they make little pancakes. Fry until golden brown on one side, then turn and brown on the other side. Only turn them once or they will become too greasy.

For heartier mashed potato pancakes, and if you have some leftover corn, add it to the batter. Both are great and make nice accompaniments to any meal."

For the waffles:

3/4 c. mashed potatoes
1/4 c. hot milk
2 TBSP all purpose flour
2 TBSP butter, melted
Celery salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten

Mushroom topping:

3 TBSP butter
6 green onions, chopped
12 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 TBSP chopped fresh parsley

Chopped chives to garnish.

For Waffles:

Heat electric waffle maker
-Beat potatoes, hot milk, flour and butter until smooth. Season with salt and pepper
-Add beaten eggs and mix well
-Brush waffle iron with oil or no stick spray if necessary. (Mine was fine without it)
-Fill with batter and close until steam ceases to escape (rec. says three min… mine took about 10!)
-Repeat as necessary.

Topping:

-In large skillet melt butter and saute green onions and mushrooms until slightly softened.
-Add sour cream and heat, stirring occasionally until thick.
-Stir in parsley.
-Pour topping over waffles and garnish with chopped chives.

Make “patties” adding anything you want and fry!

Let’s talk about cakes.

I went to birthday party where the cake that was served was purchased from a local supermarket bakery. Typical bakery cake - roses, trim and writing - nothing added on, such as toys or doo-dads.

Looked nice.

That was it - looked nice.

This was a 1/4 sheet cake. They come in frozen and frosted with flowers or balloons, etc. already on the cakes. The store adds the writing.

To begin with - the amount of actual “cake” could not have been more than what you would get from a one-layer Jiffy mix. The frosting could not have been thinner - except in the areas where it made up for the lopsided-ness of the cake - so that it would look even.

Was that cake actually worth the $17.99 + tax price tag it carried?

Not to anyone there.

And to think that for $5 more it could have been split in half and filled with probably 1/2 cup of filling.

It is so much cheaper to make your own cakes. If you are unsuccessful at baking from scratch, you can always use your coupons and stock up on cake and frosting mixes when they are on sale.

Is a cake usually too much waste because there seems to be too much of it and you end up tossing some or most of it?

Cake will freeze well - frosted or plain. You can cut into individual portions, you can buy smaller baking tins and make 2 or more cakes, freezing the extra, or you can make cupcakes (using paper liners).

After your cake has cooled completely you can frost and refrigerate; portion and freeze.

It won’t last forever in the freezer - but you can have good cake for the next several weeks.

A nice butter cake that has been portioned and frozen will make a nice dessert topped with a berry sauce or topping when berries and other fruits are in season (and cheaper).

You can do the same with pies.

I go nuts when I see the grocery store piling apple pies (for instance), claiming they are family size and charging $8.99 or more for a pie.

C’mon now!

Have you actually seen some of these pies?

You see the top of the pie (of course) and you don’t see that the pie plates that they are using have such a deep slant to the sides that the bottom of the pie is so small. Sorry - to me that is not a pie - that is a rip-off. And the price - not worth it. These should be advertised and sold as “pie tops” (like muffin tops) because the pies have no depth to them.

Make your own. Can’t make a crust? Buy a box or refrigerated crust. Even canned apple filling (or any other) can be used and how simple is that? That is what they uswe in the stores anyway! Sure ain’t HOMEMADE!

While I’m at it - and you know once my bunny battery starts working I keep going, and going, and going…

POTATO CHIPS!

Foil-lined type bags so you cannot see what is in there. (why not give us cello bags?)
Average price $4+ for a so-called large bag. Filled with air. Open the bag and look inside - yeah - contents can settle (I’m not stupid) but I would like to see more than half a bag of chips. The air they pump in there still protects the chips.

Buy a russet potato - BIG difference in price. Make your own. Make or buy various flavorings and enjoy your cheap, homemade, and healthier for you chips.

to be continued…

Got leftover chicken or turkey?

Chicken Gravy over Egg Noodles
Yield: 2 servings

2 c cooked chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
1 1/2 c strong chicken broth (or use water + chicken bouillon)
2 T chopped onions
1 c milk
1/3 c flour
1/2 t garlic salt
1/8 t black pepper
1/8 t parsley flakes
2 T sour cream
2 c (dry) egg noodles

  1. Cook egg noodles according to package instructions.
  2. While preparing noodles, start making the gravy. Put the chicken, onions, and chicken broth into a pan and bring to a boil, cooking until onions are tender.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, flour, salt, pepper, and parsley. Add to boiling mixture and boil until thickened, stirring continuously.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream until melted. Drain egg noodles.
  5. Serve gravy over noodles.

OR - SIMPLIFY IT - Cut up leftover chicken and heat in leftover gravy (or make a quick gravy/sauce using bouillon, broth, creamed soup, etc.) and serve over hot noodles; add leftover veggies if desired.

Chicken Gravy & Drop Biscuits
Yield: 6 servings

Biscuit Ingredients:
2 c flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/3 c shortening
1 c milk*

Chicken Gravy Ingredients:
2 c chicken, cooked and cubed
2 c mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, and corn)
3-4 c chicken broth
2 T minced onions
1 clove minced garlic (or use garlic salt)
1/4 t parsley
seasoned salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 c flour
1/2 c cold milk

Chicken Gravy Directions:

  1. If chicken is raw, cut into bite-sized pieces and cook in a skillet with a little oil and some garlic, pepper, parsley, and seasoned salt. If chicken is already cooked, cut into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle with some garlic, seasoned salt, parsley, and pepper.
  2. Cut carrots into small chunks and cook with some of the broth in a large stock pot until tender; add onions, peas and corn and cook 10 minutes more.
  3. Add chicken pieces and broth. Bring to a boil and cook for 5-10 minutes.
  4. In small bowl, whisk together the flour and milk, removing lumps. Slowly pour into boiling mixture, stirring constantly. Boil for several minutes, until thickened into gravy.
  5. Serve over hot fresh biscuits.

Biscuit Directions:

  1. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Cut in shortening.
  2. Add milk, stirring just until moistened.
  3. Drop biscuits onto ungreased baking sheets and bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden.
    Additional Notes:
    This gravy can also be served over rice or pasta, if desired.
    *If you would like to roll out your biscuits and cut into shape, reduce the amount of milk to 3/4 c rather than 1 c.

OR - SIMPLIFY IT: Use leftover dinner rolls or bread; add leftover veggies if desired.

still not done…

How about a word or two (yep - you know me by now! LOL) about leftovers?

A slogan in a friends’ house: THROW NOTHING OUT - RECYCLE IT!

And I have to say - that is what they do. They recycle everything - even the food.

There are certain rules to follow for saving your leftovers -
Always make sure that all leftovers are refrigerated promptly. If not using the next day - then freeze. If you ever wonder if a food is safe to eat (sometime between refrigerating it and having it carbon-dated for identification) THROW IT OUT.

Better safe than sorry.

If you keep your leftovers is a designated spot in the fridge and freezer, then it is easier to find and use them up.

I freeze quite a bit for future use. For instance - bread. I save the heels, rolls, hamburger and hotdog buns, etc. in bread bags and I use it for bread stuffings/dressings. Even a nice mixture of white, potato, rye, wheat, etc. can be used to make a nice bread stuffing/dressing. It compliments most meals as well. So many believe that the stuffing/dressing is only for Thanksgiving - how wrong!

Of course you can always make bread crumbs - plain and flavored as well as croutons with any type of breads and/or rolls.

And don’t forget all those wonderful bread pudding recipes. And for those you can even save all those cinnamon and raisin breads!

Never worry about chopping too many onions or peppers - just bag and freeze. Great for many dishes and also a time-saver for the next time.

Small portions of meats and poultry can always be added to noodles for a casserole. Add leftover veggies or frozen veggies and it’s a fine belly filler.

Make extra gravy and freeze it - you can use it for pot pies with leftover meats and veggies, or serve over taters, fries, noodles, an open-faced sammie, etc.

Don’t forget - when serving your leftovers as a new dish - add some hot biscuits, a salad or a special dessert - it won’t look like you’re serving leftovers.

Last week I made a steak dinner (skillet fried), nothing really fancy - but I knew that the steak would be just a bit too big and I would have some leftover - but yet not enough to duplicate the meal again. So I steamed red potatoes and carrots to go with it and made sure I made “extra” for the next meal. Of course I made gravy - and I made extra.

I froze the extra gravy because it would go well with burgers, fries, etc. at another time.

The next day I cut the leftover steak into bite-sized pieces and added to the crockpot with a can of diced tomatoes and let that cook. I peeled the red potatoes that were leftover and cut the leftover carrots into chunks and added that to the crockpot with a beef bouillon cube. I let that warm through. Then I had some escarole leftover - once again - not much - so I cut that into small pieces and added that and let it wilt. Once wilted I adjusted the seasonings with a bit more salt and pepper. Then I opened a package of Ramen soup - saved the seasoning packet for another use - and I broke up the noodles into small pieces and added that. Once cooked we had a very easy stew for dinner that I served with crusty bread and a salad.

It wasn’t like serving leftovers and we enjoyed it.

You can do the very same thing using leftover meats or poultry of any kind.

New person here My Mom had 4 kids and Dad got paid once a month so here is a great recipe she made that her Mom made during the war
Mock Chicken Legs
2 lbs of ground beef
2 eggs
bread crumbs enough to give it a meatloaf consistancy
Mix together and lay an oblong pattie in the palm of your hand
add a chunk of Velveeta Cheese or different cheese.
Then fold the meat over to make it look like a chicken leg.
Now roll in cracker crumbs I use soda crackers but you can use whatever is getting stale. Fry these slowly in small amt of oil till done through…don’t cook too fast cheese will melt out We like this with mashed potatoes and veggies Mmmmmm good

Those were the best! Mom did things back in those days that were amazing - and you never starved!

Thank you for sharing.

Talk about waste not - want not -

did you ever have potatoes starting to go on you and you didn’t want to waste them all?

I had too many for a meal for us - so I steamed them. We ate some with a meal topped with butter, sour cream, etc.

The remaining went into the fridge. Okay - now it’s homefries for another meal. Or potato salad.

Still got some left!

I am havng a very lazy day today - lunch consisted of cheeseburgers and I peeled and cut a couple potatoes and tossed them right in the pan when the burgers were half done.

One pot cooking - and the taters crisped up really nice.

these recipes are so exciting!

i love finding new ways to save money and make tasty meals for my family.
here’s one i just invented last night:

so you take a packagde of ramen
then you crush it up dry into a microwave safe bowl (this is very important, because it’s going to have to go in to the micro NUKE IT!! HAHAHAHAH!!!)
next, open the seasoning packadge, and sprinkle ONLY HALF of the seasoning evenly on top of the crushed dry noodles.

THEN!!!
And this is the good part!!!

take grated mozzerrella cheese, and sprinkle it on top. You pop this in the micro for about 45 seconds so the cheese melts on top, and then take it out when its finished.
Sprinkle the rest of the seasoning on top!!!

SO SIMPLE AND SO GOOD!

the best part about this is that not only is it cheap and quick–it has the saltiness that growing bodies need, so it’s great for kids!!!

I recently tried this because it has gotten to where one can of green beans is not enough to go around. Chop onions and fry in a little bacon grease or butter or pan spray your choice. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Add fresh mushrooms to the onion mixture and cook till onions are translucent. Add sunflower seeds to taste (we like a lot).At the same time In a separate pot fix green beans with a little salt, pepper, and onion powder, drain while still hot. Add to onions mixture and mix well. May add a little butter if needed to keep from getting dry. serve hot. This makes the can stretch very far depending on the amount of onions and mushrooms added. Even my 9 year old loves it

Thank you for sharing tootiesrw!

One can of anything doesn’t seem to go far these days - and that is true with so much. I buy tuna - like just about everyone else does - the cans were 6 3/4 oz. and now they are only 6 oz. and after draining - you have less than half a can of tuna - barely enough for a sandwich!

I wish they would stop all this and just leave the canned goods at the weight they should be.

KW

1 lb salmon fillets
dash salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsb butter
1 small onion, finely diced
handfull pack tarragon leaves, chopped, stalks retained
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
2 tsb double cream

Preheat grill to high. Place the salmon fillets skin side down on the grill pan. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill for 15-20 minutes until crispy and golden.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a pan over a low heat. Add the onion, tarragon stalks and lemon zest and cook gently until softened. Add the lemon juice and cream and increase the heat, boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes until it becomes slightly thickened.

Strain the mixture into a clean pan and discard the residue. Place over a low heat and gradually whisk in the butter. Do not allow the sauce to thicken at this point as it may separate.

Place the salmon on four serving plates. Season the sauce with salt and freshly ground black pepper, add the tarragon leaves and serve.

Great served with a green vegetable or a salad.

Thrifty like a pro
Local restaurants tell us how to adapt their money-saving techniques in the home kitchen
By Janice Okun
NEWS FOOD EDITOR

Trying to cut the food budget right about now? Who isn’t? “I’ve been all over it these days,” says Tucker Curtin, who owns three restaurants in Western New York — the Lake Effect Diner, the Steer and (in season) Dug’s Dive, in the Small Boat Harbor.
He is not alone. Just about anyone in the restaurant business you can think of is obsessed with the subject.
There’s always been big pressure to save in the commercial kitchen, but this year the need has become urgent: Economic recession means fewer customers. Fewer customers means less money coming in. Every bit of food has to be carefully thought about.
And, of course, home cooks are feeling the pain, too. What to do?
Gather all the advice you can glom onto, for one thing. So we talked with some people in the food business to see what steps they are taking to get more for their money, and how these techniques could be transferred to a home kitchen.
Some of the ideas they came up with require a little time to carry out. More time, certainly, than stopping at a fast-food restaurant, using packaged products or patronizing the takeout at the supermarket.
But here’s the thing: If you maximize the minutes you spend in your kitchen you can definitely minimize the dollars you spend there. Think ahead; utilize weekends.
And save.
Waste, of course, is the first thing to eliminate. Waste is the bane of a restaurant kitchen — and it should be in yours.
“We never throw anything out except old lettuce,” says Liz Kolken of Quaker Bonnet. “We save all bones and we save every vegetable to make stock or soup.
“We save onion peels (which give wonderful color), ends of tomatoes, celery. We make chicken salad all the time and use the chicken stock to cook the chicken. Then we sieve the stock, freeze it and use that enriched stock again.
“When we do a big roast of beef we save the ends and use that for stock or stew or beef pot pies.”
Kolken says Quaker Bonnet is careful with fruit, too. “We make applesauce from old apples. Or curried fruit, which is wonderful with chicken,” she says.
Mary Tomaselli of La Tee Da is no fan of waste either.
“I grew up in the Depression,” she notes. “And I’m married to a Polish man [Zbigniew Bartoszewski]. Right after World War II they didn’t have much heat or fuel.”
So, she goes on, her husband’s family would start to make rice in the morning, then take it off the stove and bury the pan in the bed clothes. By the time they got home from work the rice was cooked and was light and fluffy.
Well, it’s an idea anyway. One technique that is utilized in the restaurant and can be adapted in a home kitchen is soup making.
“If you just know how to make broth, that would be great,” she says.
Tomaselli suggests that you save and freeze chicken backs, use every inch of fresh vegetables and keep lentils in the pantry. Keep bouillon cubes on hand in case you want to kick up the flavor of vegetable broth, she suggests, and using the crock pot is a good idea.
Tomaselli is also a big fan of portion control. “Americans eat as if every day is Thanksgiving,” she says. “In Europe, sometimes supper is just soup and bread.”
Debby Clark of Delish and Chop Chop doesn’t believe in leftovers. She believes in what she calls “planned-overs.”
“Say you’re planning to cook a chicken on a Sunday when you want your house to smell delicious,” Clark says. “Don’t cook just one chicken — cook two. Debone the chickens and eat one for dinner on Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday, make tacos with it. Make a salad on Wednesday and by Thursday and Friday serve it over pasta.”
Clark suggests you freeze the carcass for future soup making or any extra meat if you don’t want an entire week of chicken.
“But freeze it in workable portions so you don’t have to look at it and say, ‘What am I going to do with all that chicken?’ ”
Clark is also a fan of casseroles. (See the recipe for the Chicken Enchilada Casserole that follows.)
Tom Lombardo of Ristorante Lombardo talks about careful food shopping.
He calls it “cherry picking,” suggesting home cooks should patronize more than one food outlet, as he does.
“It used to be that I dealt with one food purveyor,” says Lombardo. “But now I check with at least three before I place my order to get the best price.”
A consumer, he says, can do the same thing by visiting at least two supermarkets. “The best way to do that would be just to check the flier grocery ads on Sunday.”
Curtin is a cherry picker, too. and he thinks consumers should plan their shopping carefully, write down the numbers to see what dealers are charging for each item. That’s what a successful restaurateur would do.
“Have a good freezer,” suggests Curtin. “Buy in bulk. Buy tomatoes that have marks on them, or in season pull them from your garden. And make up a big pot of sauce, portion it out and freeze it. Make your own salad dressing — commercial salad dressings are expensive.
At the Lake Effect Diner, Curtin makes up his own Balsamic Vinegar Dressing in gallons and holds it in the cooler for about a week.
Avoid impulse buying, says Curtin. “Don’t buy anything unless you know what you’re going to do with it” and when you’re going to use it.
If you’re going to use vegetables right away, it’s OK to buy soft and very ripe ones. But that’s not the case if you’re not going to use the veggies for several days. Then crispness is what you need.
Curtin has another tip to pass along, too: Love your spatula; use your spatula. That flat-bladed utensil can pry every bit of food out of a dish or pan, eliminating waste, utilizing all the food that went into it.
“I think that the use of a spatula saves us 1 to 2 percent across the board.”

One way not to overspend in the supermarket and to avoid impulse buying is to make a list and stick to it. Also, it is wise to go to the supermarket only after you have had a meal. Going to the supermarket hungry will kill your budget.

lvdkeyes -

I don’t know what it is like where you are - but I’ve noticed in the past couple weeks that many have started to shop at the “cheap” stores (SaveALot - Aldi’s) and buying off-brand items instead of shopping at their regular supermarkets.

The Walmart near me does not have a supermarket section but they do have a few food items (for instance) you can purchase D’Italia sliced Italian bread (seeded of unseeded) for $1.68/loaf while right across the street at Tops (a major food chain here) sells the same bread for $2.99/loaf. Walmart’s brand milk is cheaper than Tops and ditto with cereals, snacks, etc. So most that shop at Tops skip buying those items at Tops and head to Walmart to get it cheaper.

We have a Walmart with a supercenter about 25 miles from here - once again - across from a Tops market - and Walmart’s shelves ar always wiped out.

Save ALot and Aldi’s have cheaper items than Walmart - so many now go there for them.

And no one is buying like they used to - they walk in and just get what they want.

Before things got bad I stocked up on canned goods and staples - so shopping is easy for me. And I’ve noticed that what I have in the pantry is costing more to purchase now.

Even the so-called sales that are advertised weekly aren’t really sales most of the time.

Makes a person wonder what is going to happen next…

KW
Here in Thailand the way to cut food costs is to shop the fresh markets as much as possible and when in the supermarket to avoid the imports and stick with the local products. It is very cheap and quite safe to eat from the street stalls and small restaurants.
I was up north in a small village and had the local specialty called Kow Soi, which is a curried chicken and noodle soupy dish. It is absolutely delicious and cheap. A large bowl approximately a quart size dish cost me 57 cents USD.

Wow - go into a restaurant here and order that - and if you only get charge $7.99 you’re lucky!